Hope Clubs – Empowering people with LF in Haiti
Lymphatic Filariasis (elephantiasis) causes physical disability and disfigurement, leading to social stigma and marginalisation which often ultimately result in unemployment and poverty. CBM and partners are working to empower people with LF in Haiti through guidelines on how to alleviate acute episodes of the disease well as with the psychosocial and emotional support that is vital for their physical and emotional well-being.
Physical disability, social stigma and marginalisation
Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), also known as elephantiasis, is an extremely painful, debilitating and disfiguring disease. It is caused by the thread-like parasitic worms which live in the lymphatic system and can cause extreme swelling of the extremities and genitals. There is currently no cure for the disease, but symptoms can be managed with a treatment plan that includes a combination of medicines that cost approximately 50 US cents per person per year.
Just as important as the medicine needed to treat the physical effects of LF is the treatment necessary to alleviate the emotional effects of the disease. Those with severe symptoms are often unable to work because of the physical disability brought on by the disease. Many suffer from social stigma and marginalisation as a result of their disfigurement.
CBM is working to empower people with LF through guidelines on how to alleviate acute episodes of the disease well as with the psychosocial and emotional support that is vital for their physical and emotional well-being.
In 2012, CBM and its partners provided over 10 million treatments to people to prevent or treat Lymphatic Filariasis and / or Schistosomiasis and / or soil transmitted Helminths.
Sharing information and providing mutual support
CBM’s LF project in Haiti is currently concentrated in the cities of Leogane, Cap-Haitien, and Carrefour, where the prevalence of LF ranges from 10 to 45% – well above the national prevalence of 10%.
CBM has partnered with the Hospital Sainte Croix and the University of Notre Dame to establish Hope Clubs, support groups for people suffering from LF. As part of the first year of activities, CBM has recruited 200 LF patients to join the Hope Clubs in Leogane.
Members of the clubs meet bi-monthly to share information about basic self care and hygiene and to develop mutual support among members. The Hope Clubs are led by animators who have received training from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on risk reduction strategies and basic limb care.